I have recently started recycling materials – mainly cardboard packaging – as alternative surfaces to canvas or paper. This move probably has its origins in the production of Keep an Eye on the Amaryllis #5, which was painted in acrylics on cardboard, and a self portrait painted on the back of some mount board. However, it’s also a satisfying use of found materials, providing them with a pleasing second life, and makes for an enjoyable experience quite different to working on canvas.
This painting, which depicts some rainbow tulips in a vase, was my first effort at working on these new surfaces. I was attracted to the colours in the Ryvita Crackerbread packaging, which had not long been tossed into the recycling, thinking they might complement the colours in the tulips on the dining room table.
The surface of this card being very different to canvas – texture-less, glossy and slippery – forced me to adapt my working method. Watered-down washes were out and opaque applications of paint a must. Working on material that would otherwise be thrown out allowed me a sense of freedom in the handling of the paint – perhaps less precious than when working on more expensive canvases. As such it was an exciting, enjoyable experience. Working freely, with no initial drawing out of the composition, the artwork was completed in one sitting.